Review: NODE, The Modular iPhone Sensor That You Never Knew You Needed

by nessel on January 23, 2013

NODE Sensor for iPhone

There are certain things you need.  There are certain things you want.  Then there is the NODE from Variable Technologies.  The NODE is one of those gadgets you don’t think you need or want…because you have no idea what it is when you first see it.  Once you start playing with the NODE and realize everything it can do, the NODE becomes the gadget you need AND want!

NODE, KORE, CHROMA, THERMA – What In The World Are We Talking About?

Perhaps the hardest thing about the NODE is trying to explain what it is.  Here is how the company describes the NODE KORE -

“Meet NODE, a handheld sensor powerhouse with Bluetooth 4.0 Smart (Low Energy), a 9 degrees-of-freedom motion engine, a gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer, in addition to two interchangeable modules you can add to either end. Attach any of the modules listed below to enhance your NODE.”

Clear as day now?  Yeah, we were confused as well.  We had the inventor demo the Node Kore to us at CES 2013 and we have now had a chance to test and play with the NODE sensor in our labs.  The NODE is best explained by seeing it in action…

Please take a look at our hands-on video review of the NODE Sensor -

Simply Put, The NODE Turns Your iPhone Into An Expandable Environment Sensor

Hopefully the video shed some light on what the NODE is and what you would use it for.  Simply put, the NODE Kore is a Bluetooth 4.0 powered sensor that communicates with your iPhone.  By adding different sensor modules to the NODE Kore, you can expand the functions of the NODE.  It is this expansion of the KORE that makes the NODE such an interesting product.

Add the Therma module and you can instantly check temperatures of anything you can point a light at.  Since you just need to hit the object with the light from the NODE, you can be 10-15 feet away and still get an accurate reading.    Want to check if heat is leaking out of a wall? Use the NODE Therma.  How hot is that pipe in your basement ceiling that you can’t reach? Use the NODE Therma. Want to see how hot your soup is?  Use the NODE Therma.  Want to check if the fridge is really keeping your milk cold enough?  Yep, use the NODE Therma.  Once you have a device that you can point at anything and read its temperature, you will find yourself becoming a temperature junkie! Hmm, as I write this, I wonder how hot this laptop is getting on my lap…

The CHROMA Module is The Killer App For Design Minded Folks

Is that wall in the kid’s bedroom butter, mellow yellow, golden honey or golden straw?  Wonder no more with the Chroma module for the NODE Kore.  With the Chroma you simply point the NODE at any color and it gives you an exact color match.  In fact, you can even point the NODE at two different colors and it will tell you how closely they match.  Pair the Chroma up with the Paint Pro App (by Figure 8 ) and you can get exact paint chip matches from all the major paint companies.

For any parent who has ever done decorating, the Chroma is an absolutely thrill.  Again, there is something magical about pointing a wireless tube at your wall and having an app on your phone show an exact color match.

Now For the Tech Specs…

Do you like getting into all the juicy tech specs on a new gadget?  Here is a pdf with all the specs on the NODE, knock yourself out!

Want The NODE To Do More?  Use the Open API to Create Your Own Applications

The fact that you can add new sensor modules to the Node Kore make it a highly expandable gadget, but the open nature of the Node means you can also hack the gadget as well.  We understand that most parents barely have time to brush their teeth in the morning, no less program an app.  Still, the fact that the NODE uses an Open API means that developers will be able to create new apps and expand on what the NODE can do today.  As more users come on board with the NODE, the development community should grow and we will start to see some creative uses for the NODE.

Living On The Cutting Edge Does Have a Price…The Price

Surprisingly, for a cutting edge gadget, the NODE is very easy to use.  Install the apps, shake the NODE and you are ready to go.  If the NODE runs low on power, use the included USB cable to plug it in and recharge it (only takes about an hour).  The only real problem with the NODE is that it is relatively expensive.  The Kore Node sells for $149.  That price is not bad, but if you want the Therma sensor – that is another $75.  Want the Chroma sensor?  Again, another $75.   On the plus side, the NODE is the very rare gadget that is actually made in the USA!

Conclusion:  The NODE Expands The Power of Your Phone in a Positive Way

The NODE is one of those gadgets that is hard to explain, but easy to love.  The ability to point a light at your ceiling and instantly see if your insulation is doing its job is almost magical.  Place the Node Chroma on your sofa and instantly see what paint color will match it perfectly.  If you do work around your house and have an eye for design, you will find plenty of ways to use the NODE.

We would like to see the price of the NODE come down and perhaps as they move to larger production runs, the cost will come down.  We do love the fact that the NODE was developed, designed and manufactured in the USA.  Given the modular and open API aspect of the NODE, it feels like today we are just scratching the surface of what the NODE is capable of measuring.  Pick up a NODE today and turn your smartphone into a super sensory genius phone!

More Information:

NODE from Variable Technologies sells for $149 for the base unit.

Watch our CES2013 Interview with NODE Inventor, George Vu.

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